string conversion, format functions

Jay Nelson jay@REDACTED
Thu Apr 24 08:19:07 CEST 2003

 > It's kind of strange, when you think about it, have there
 > even been any significant advances in "output formatting
 > technology" since, what, FORTRAN?

I guess I forgot Cobol, Snobol and RPG.  Since RPG was
my first serious programming, I should have remembered.
It was by far the best of the three both for its conditional
formatting brevity and its pictorial layout.  Even the terminal
screens were easily mapped into the layout (which was
typically pencilled out on graph paper during the design).
Snobol was much better for searching and parsing strings
than producing them as I recall -- somewhat reminiscent
of Perl with its "content addressable arrays" and overloading
+ for string concatenation and math.

I did dabble with REFAL (Recursive Functional Applicative
Language) which used a model wherein the entire program
was the current display; if the beginning of the string was
executable it ran and produced another entire display; and
so on until the beginning of the display was not executable
and therefore was the output.  It was designed for AI type
symbolic problem solving, but might have allowed for some
sort of formatting although in a very tedious way.


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